TAKING CARE OF YOUR HEALTH IN TIMES OF COVID – 19

24 Jul 2020

The COVID-19 crisis has upset the routine and habits of many people and poses a threat on the way we effectively manage our health.

Here are a few tips to help you take good care of your health and your immune system.

1. Nutrition

No food, nutrient or supplement can prevent COVID 19 infection. However, a balanced healthy diet rich in protective foods can boost one’s immunity.

Outlined below are examples of spices, minerals and vitamins that can be helpful in boosting one’s immunity:-

  • Turmeric - is best known for its ability to reduce inflammation. Its component Curcumin is being reviewed for its potential effect in preventing the entry of SARS-COV-2 virus into the human cells
  • Garlic-Can boost immunity and help to reduce inflammation. It has been shown to contain potassium, calcium and sulphuric compounds that protect against microbial infection.

Garlic has more health benefits when it is raw.

  • Ginger-Gingerol, the bioactive substance in fresh ginger, can help lower the risk of infections.
  • Zinc- an essential mineral in the production of different immune cells. Evidence shows that zinc works locally in the nasopharynx to reduce the entry of respiratory viruses. Because the body cannot produce or store it, one has to get it from wide variety of plant and animal sources.

Sources of zinc include: oysters, cashews, chickpeas.

  • Vitamin C-is a potent antioxidant and supports the function of white cells by enhancing the oxidative killing capacity. The white cells therefore easily deactivate viruses. It also reduces the likelihood of the inflammatory storm that affects patients with severe COVID-19

It is important to note that excess vitamin C can cause distress of the lining of the stomach and intestine and causes other minerals such as selenium and vitamin A to be insoluble. Sources – broccoli, cabbages, oranges, red pepper, kiwi, strawberry, citrus fruits, guava, green leafy vegetables

  • Vitamin D-According to studies, several non-communicable diseases (high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases,) can lower your blood Vitamin D levels. These pre-existing diseases, together with their often accompanying vitamin D deficiency, increase the risk of severe COVID-19 events. The sun is an important source of Vitamin D. During the current 'lockdown' scenarios, many people are spending more time than usual indoors, with a further risk of lower Vitamin D levels. Supplements can be taken at recommended levels in consultation with your physician.

Sources – sun, fish, fortified foods, milk, orange

2. Well - being

  • Sleep – It is important to develop a regular sleep routine. Most adults require at least 7 hours daily.
  • Stress management – Positively cope with stress and anxiety. Positive coping mechanisms include: meditation, relaxation, spending quality time with loved ones, development of further skills and hobbies.

Avoid negative coping mechanisms like stress eating, excessive alcohol consumption.

  • Quit smoking – While there is currently no evidence of risk of COVID-19 infection associated with smoking. Tobacco smokers are more vulnerable to contracting COVID 19 infection as the act of smoking involves the contact of fingers and possibly contaminated cigarettes with the lips, which increases the possibility of transmission from hand to mouth.

Smoking increases the risk of many lung infections and WHO recommends quitting

3. Monitor Your Health

  • If you feel unwell, get assistance.
  • If you may have been exposed, quarantine is advised and you would have to take your temperature with a thermometer two times a day and monitor for fever (37.5°C or higher).
  • Home pulse oximetry(SPO2) – A pulse oximeter is a device that is typically clipped over the finger and measures the oxygen levels in your blood. It is a non-invasive and painless test. COVID-19 can cause reduced oxygen levels in blood, sometimes without obvious symptoms. Home pulse oximetry monitoring, if done correctly, can be a useful way of detecting low oxygen levels if you are positive for Covid-19. Home SPO2 monitoring can also reduce unnecessary hospital revisits by people who have tested positive and are in home isolation.

Note: Scientific evidence to support therapeutic benefits of using traditional medicine is yet to be presented. The medical research fraternity is still trying to understand the new virus and develop models of therapeutic product evaluation, verification and/or validation. Therefore, as it stands now, there is no Herbal/Traditional medicine ascertained to be of therapeutic benefit in COVID-19 management.

Keep Safe and Healthy!

JMS 24/7 emergency call line: Tel: +254 724 255 378 OR Email: unon-jms-medicalevacuation@un.org  

Useful Links: What to do when ill 

                        Demystifying Remote Working

Some open source references are included below.

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/acem.14053 -SPO2

https://health.mil/News/Articles/2020/05/22/COVID-19-lifestyle-tips-to-stay-healthy-during-the-pandemic.

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/zinc#benefits

http://www.emro.who.int/nutrition/nutrition-infocus/nutrition-advice-for-adults-during-the-covid-19-outbreak.html

https://www.nation.co.ke/kenya/healthy-nation/the-covid-19-foods-753598

http://www.kilimo.go.ke/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Guidelines-for-sustaining-healthy-diets-at-household-level.pdf

https://uonresearch.org/blog/eating-healthy-to-boost-our-immunity-and-protect-our-bodies-from-disease-causing-infections-including-covid-19/

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/eating-during-covid-19-improve-your-mood-and-lower-stress-2020040719409

https://www.nebraskamed.com/COVID/fight-coronavirus-with-food

http://www.fao.org/americas/noticias/ver/en/c/1267852/

Posted on: 24 Jul 2020